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Aunt Shorty, Tragg, and Dragg

by Annette
April 2007
We went to buy supplies at the feed store and... Bob spotted a Silkie chick with a leg sticking out. Lady said she thought some boob dropped it. I should just take it. Of course that meant two. Now how do I tape the leg??

I made her solemnly swear to take them back if they're roos.

Lieutenant Tragg, the Energetic Silkie We Think A Rooster.

I took them home and carefully examined the injured one. The joint (knee) is swollen. She made it through the night and appears otherwise fine. I've decided to keep her a full 24 hours to see if it's a simple injury before I do anything at all. It may be wishful thinking, but it seems a tad less swollen today

How do I tell? Do I tape it so the leg is straight?

My husband has this bizarre fixation with the Perry Mason show, which I've loathed since childhood. He got all eggcited when he bought the entire 7 seasons on the internet. Now we have this strange bonding ritual where I reluctantly say, "Wanna watch Perry??" And there I'll sit, kitting and watching Perry.

Anyhoot, one of the characters on the show is a Lieutenant Tragg, who bears an uncanny resemblance to this guy we work with. This has provided us with much amusement. Bob named the feisty chick Tragg. So now I have the Lieutenant. Naturally the crippled baby has become Dragg.

Lieutenant Tragg Does a Field Investigation
We are sick.

I have 5 silkie hens. None have layed an egg in at least a year; still I tried to get them to adopt the babies. They would not. But they didn't peck to reject them. I kept on putting the chicks in the nesting box with different hens. But the chicks kept on jumping out of the box.

Aunt Shorty in her day was the ultimate mommy, so I figured she was my best bet. I kept on putting Shorty in with the orphans. She has peered at them and sort of peck-preened one. She keeps on leaving the box.

She gives them this peculiar sideways stare, like she was thinking, "Humm.. chicks???""

The chicks approached Shorty repeatedly, but she walked away. She finally laid down under the heat lamp and the babies came and laid on her. As they cuddled her Shorty looked at them to say, "Well, if you must!" Clearly those babies wanted a mommy badly.


Shorty is just fascinating. Hasn't layed since last season. All the others have shown no interest in the babies. The Schmoo even pecked one (WE HAD A TALK about that). I kept on putting Shorty in the box with them. She allowed them to cuddle her. She took a sunbath that she allowed them to share. They want her, this is clear.

She keeps on abandoning them, but oddly, grudgingly, tolerating them.

Aunt Shorty With Her Chicks.
Can you identify the breed of the brownish little bantam? It doesn't look like a Silkie mix.
Normally the gals sleep four in one box, Shorty in her own. Shorty will peck any interlopers out, even the Schmoo. Last night I put the babies in Shorty's box.

She allowed them to sleep with her!

Just now I picked up the injured one to examine her leg. She was crying. Shorty perked up listening. I put the baby in the box and for the first time Shorty went in the box of her own accord. It's so odd--they'll climb under her, but she's not doing that classic hen posture. She'll get down on her side as if to say, "Look I'm in here taking in the heat. If you REALLY MUST, you can lean on me."

It's really quite fascinating.

Aunt Shorty allowed the chicks to sleep with her. The next day, she was still ignoring them, but half-way through the day I heard the MOMMY CLUCK! Good old Shorty had decided to love those babies. There was Shorty, taking up a piece of sweet corn, throwing it down and clucking the "eat, eat" sound.

Atta girl!

This is all quite interesting. The chicks were at least one week, so they have not imprinted. They won't obey her lots of the time. She gets frustrated with them. Sometimes one will be under Lucky or Anna Godfrey and they won't respond to Shorty. She can't see them then starts up the alarm call. You just KNOW the damn things will turn out to be roos. I'm worried that the feed store lady, who promised to take them back if male, will "forget" when the time comes.

Well, hell, I couldn't let Gimpy die, could I? The leg is still not right, but she can balance on it and bend it more than before. I think if she'd rest it, but you know chicks, hopping, fighting for food, and running after mom...

The more I watched them, the more fascinated I became. Shorty had adopted them, but since they were past the imprint stage, they didn't always obey her. They'd want to explore and hang out with the other hens too. She would get frustrated when they'd ignore her.

Lieutenant Tragg and the Mass of Mommas
After about 2 weeks two other hens, Cindy and Anna decided that they wanted to adopt the babies too. A clucking war took place. Shorty strove to keep the other two away, but the babies decided they wanted all 3 moms. They'd crawl into the box with the other 4 hens.

Shorty would frantically cluck for them, but they'd ignore her. She eventually gave up and joined them. I had 5 hens all sleeping with two wee chicks sticking up their little heads from time to time.
Too cute for words!

Poor old Lucky Ducky. At first I even tried the babies with her. The Lieutenant ran over her legs. Lucky looked confused.

Our Best Beloved is Ancient Of Days. I think she's a tad bit senile.

Dragg, the little gimp just loves Lucky.

The Gimp just loves Lucky the Venerable and is constantly cuddling her poor blind face and grooming it. Can you just die?
Gimpy has taken to setting by Lucky and doing her hair. I just can't stand it, it's too cute

Lucky is well, but slower all the time. (She's blind and 10 years old.) I put her in front of the food and she'll forget it's there. I'll pick her up, give her a hug and say, "come on, eat for Mommy" and it'll sometimes wake her up and she'll start eating again. It just breaks my heart.

Grandma Lucky Ducky With Her Little Favorite Lt. Tragg
I think she's as happy as possible and that she knows our voices and loves it when I hold her in my lap. What a beautiful little soul.

I was taking care of our Venerable today. I sat her on the chair with a mix of corn, ricotta, sesame and rice. She didn't seem too hungry. I sat her in my lap and we watched TV for a while.
Then I said, "Come on. You need some water and to eat some more for Mom OK?" She had some water from Mr. Fountain. Then I tried birdseed. She started to make the bay call! Faintly and briefly, but unmistakably! Some part of that old brain seemed to dimly remember what to do. It was so touching.

You'd just about die from the cuteness of it all. Shorty has decided to be a mom, but unlike the last times, she's not turned aggressive on the other hens. Maybe, as her hormones build up, she will, but I'm hoping not.
So the babies (well the Lieutenant anyway. Dragg can't jump) climbed into the box with Lucky. Poor old girl doesn't quite know what end is up, but they go and cuddle her and she sort of just stands there.

In the front is the Venerable, with Shorty and Anna and the Lieutenant. Dragg the Gymp is somewhere under Shorty or Anna. I never thought Shorty would share her babies in a zillion years, but how cute is this?
In pops Shorty and starts grooming Lucky. Before you know it, they're all lying down together! Anna Godfrey tolerates the babies too. The Schmoo and Cindy Hyacinth pecked, but only when they come too close.

They're all kind of hanging together. It's so cute I can't stand it. Dragg's leg is a little better. She hops around and can put light pressure on it.

Hyacinth has taken to calling the babies too. Although poor thing, they ignore her and Shorty pecks her. Lord. It's just pitiful. She REALLY, REALLY persisted in calling them, scratching, and calling.

The Girls and Their Kids
Finally I held Shorty in my lap and they went to her and she fed them. Of course once I set Shorty down the party was over and Cindy got the ouster. They're all sleeping together again despite Shorty's aggressive behavior today. I have to say this is the most interesting clutch I've ever had, but I just KNOW that the Lieutenant is a roo. What am I going to do?

The Schmoo is the only one who remained aloof. I guess she decided to stay an aunt.

Months passed. Dragg was completely cured and grew into a beautiful pullet, renamed Sister Mary Rotunda.

Sister Mary Rotunda and the Lieutenant
Tragg, alas crowed, and I had to re-home him. I called my vet on an impulse and the receptionist who happened to answer the phone found a perfect home for him, where he'd be treated as a pet.

Sister Mary Rotunda
Without Her Beloved Mom, Aunt Shorty
On Tuesday October 23, 2007, our Beloved Aunt Shorty died of cancer.

The very next day, her last baby, Sister Mary Rotunda, layed her very first egg.

I'm convinced my Shorty smiled down from Heaven.

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